University of Southern California

Seiyonne Suriyakumar
Travels and Trojan Bonding
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Graduating Year

“College for four years, but a Trojan for life”—Seiyonne Suriyakumar heard this several times before starting at USC Marshall. Now recently graduated, he understands how true that statement is, and how tight the Trojan family bonds are.

Seiyonne’s own family emigrated from Sri Lanka to California 21 years ago, when he was just a toddler. Business runs in his blood—his father is chairman, president and CEO of American Reprographics—so USC Marshall was a natural choice.

“I really wanted to come to Marshall because I was raised in an entrepreneurial family,” he says. “The Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies is known nationwide.”

Cases of Trojan teamwork

Seiyonne also found Marshall to be very teamwork-oriented and collaborative. “Students here really help each other out,” he says.

Such camaraderie played a vital role in his experiences on the Marshall Case Team. “Case was absolutely amazing,” he says. “You have team meetings, strategy sessions, deliverables and hard deadlines. On top of that you present to company executives who are really calling you out and trying to poke holes in your strategy.”

He adds, “It’s amazingly gratifying when you answer an executive’s question and see a smile.”

Travels with Marshall

As part of the Marshall Case Team, Seiyonne traveled to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Montreal, but his international experiences didn’t end there. “I was fortunate to be in the LINC Program [Learning about International Commerce],” he says. “So I traveled to Beijing my freshman year.”

He visited Vietnam the following December, then went to Dubai over spring break the following year as part of the International Experiential Corporate Environment Learning (I-ExCEL) program. “Meeting international executives gives you unparalleled experience on the business culture and processes of other nations,” Seiyonne explains.

He also spent a summer in London working for a small entrepreneurial company that does business-process outsourcing through the Winslow-Maxwell internship program. Seiyonne’s combination of youth and experience enabled him to help the company with its social-media advertising. He also drafted press releases. “Anything marketing-related, I really took ownership of that.”

Faculty who go the distance

In addition to the international experience, Seiyonne says it was the faculty who made all the difference in his Marshall experience. “They go the distance,” he says. “They do everything in their power to help you succeed.”

One of his favorite classes was Cases in Entrepreneurship, taught by Tommy Knapp. Seiyonne says: “He’s a very down-to-earth, real guy. And he keeps it real with students, making them get out and ‘get dirty’ through first-hand learning.”

In the Management & Organization program, Seiyonne singles out Carl Voigt as a lively professor with a unique style of teaching. “He basically gives you cases to read, and the entire class is a discussion about the case, in which he cold calls students for their takeaways and analysis.”

Finally, Seiyonne names professor of strategy and Case Team advisor Michael Coombs as a major mentor during his time at Marshall. “I was president of the Case Team this last year, so I worked extensively with him. He’s very supportive and puts in the extra time to help his students succeed.”